Sunday, May 12, 2013

First week in...

     Sitting in a Black Canyon Coffee shop at what is considered the Thailand version of the mall, and drinking my 3rd Thai Iced Tea in 24 hours, it seems I finally have a moment to reflect on the previous week's events. Hopefully I can provide insight into what it's like living here--a view of Thai culture through a young Native Son's eyes.
Took a walk up a hill in the Mission District. Views overlooking SF.
     The past week was a blur. It seems like I just left my good friend George in San Fran (you were a tremendous host btw, thanks George)--yet here I am in Lampang and no Farangs (white people) in sight. It felt like freshman orientation at Wake, where certain questions were asked upon each and every introduction. You could almost guarantee "where are you from?" and "where are you placed?" Once I got past that phase I quickly realized that we were all very much alike. It takes a distinct type of person to pack their bags and move to the opposite side of the world. But even knowing this, it was fascinating how quickly we all made friends. I went from knowing zero people to having double-digit close friends scattered all across Thailand. By week's end we were all genuinely sad that we were leaving each other. The silver lining is that we now have places to visit with free lodging. 
     The majority of our day time was spent locked in hotel conference rooms where we were taught how to teach English and given some essential Thai language skills. It was actually much more enjoyable than I anticipated. Our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher did a really good job of making it fun and informative--what more can you ask for. We would go out at night; either right around the hotel (which was well outside the center of Bangkok) or take a 20+ minute cab ride in. Easily the best moment in BKK was the 2-3 hours a few of us spent at the Sky Bar. We were on a patio area 64 floors up, with a view of the sun setting over the entire city. Staring at the red sky, I kept thinking how it was a strange mix of the Lion King and The Hangover 2. 

(Lion King intro)


     We took a day and night trip west of BKK to Kanchanaburi and saw The Bridge Over the River Kwai (which is also apparently a movie I have to watch now), cruised on bamboo rafts, and rode elephants. Maybe some would choose the elephants, but, for me, the most rewarding moment came on a surprise river boat dinner (I say surprise because we thought it was just a floating barge of sorts until it started moving). The cruise lasted around 3 hours in total and was filled with more incredible sunset views (maybe I just really like sunsets...).
The Bridge
Not sure
Maybe I should've picked one where I wasn't sleeping
That little thing dragged us around
Extra greasy 
      When it became completely dark, the boat DJ turned up the dance music and unknowingly signaled my cue to leave. I found myself (purposefully) sitting alone on the back of the boat secluded from everyone else. Slowly the music began to fade, and it was then that I felt like I had been transformed into another time. I was in one of those erie scenes from Apocalypse Now--just me and a few other Thai dinghies on a river under the stars. As I sat messing around with the boat lights using the long exposure on my camera, I thought about a Mark Twain quote I heard before leaving home:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime
I was content.


  1. Great writing!
    I'd like to see where you are living and teaching. Can you take pics of apt and school?

  2. I feel like I was there...excellent. can't wait for the next instalemnt